25 May 2016

A few firsts

We had a delicious long weekend visiting our dear family.  It was full to the brim of goodness.  And lots of firsts.  First time milking a cow, first time riding a pony, first time mucking out stalls, first time travelling by night.  For the record, all our firsts turned out to be wonderful experiences.  (Whew!)

By the way, raw milk is everything it's cracked up to be and more!  It's so creamy and rich and delicious!  Tastes different than the store bought kind, even the 3%.  And when you're the one who's milked the cow, you know pretty much all you need to know about your milk.  :)  The kids drank lots of milk.  They even had homemade frozen yogurt.  Yum!  I think that was one of S's favourite parts.  

This my farmer boy.  And what a funny sight for me as I find that usually he won't go near the source of any bad odours.  Not so here.  Did I mention how much I want a farm?  A mama can dream.  Although the bug situation was absolutely incredible!  So many bugs!  Flies, mosquitoes, you name it!  All around.  All the time.  Poor M got eaten alive. 

My equestrian children.  They couldn't get enough rides.  I think they must have ridden for at least an hour.  Enough for me to put the baby to bed and take a nap myself.

With all the fresh air, space and love, the kids were really in heaven.  My heart was so full there.  We all seem to find a sort of inner rest in Panagia's garden.  

We drove back during the night and the kids conked out for at least the last 2 hours.  And I must admit I did too.  Thank goodness D was our trusty driver.  He never disappoints.  I feel blessed to have him around so much.  

Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

20 May 2016

Little scientists

So, those dandelions from last week?  They spoiled.  I should've known they needed to be fully covered with oil, but no, a few heads did poke out.  And now we must needs start over.  Good thing there are still plenty of dandelions around!  But goodness, I feel so scatterbrained these days.  (Or maybe I've always been that way and I'm only seeing it now at last?)

A few messy things taken care of and now I can focus on the shopping part of my list.  The biggest item is a new bike for J.  She is patiently waiting, though I hope to surprise her before next week when the weather gets much nicer.  My kids do love riding their bikes anywhere they can.  And because it's getting ridiculous trying to fit three bikes and a stroller in our trunk, we're on the lookout for a decent bike rack.  :)

We are hoping to plant some tomatoes next week.  It may have to be a little later, because, of course, schedules have a way of getting ridiculously busy all of a sudden.  And that's ok.  The plants are already growing in their cosy pots, so we have some time.  I love spring.

This past week we learned that pine cones can help predict the weather.  They close when it's going to rain and open if not.  This is to guard the seeds inside the pine cone, of course.  It has to do with the moisture in the air.  We put one in a cup of water and it closed in about 5-10 minutes.  And then we set it on the window sill and the next morning it was open!  The little ones just LOVED it! Fascinating stuff these pine cones.  M took one to school for a class demonstration.  If you've never done it, it's so worth it just to see the kids faces light up with wonder.

I think the next thing we need to research are ants.  They are fascinating to little eyes and hands.  Here the kids are making a mountain for the ants.  They actually buried a colony they found and just kept building "ant mountain" upwards.  They even dug a trench around it.  Perhaps we shall even get to medieval castle building if there's time...  

Wishing you many such adventures with little scientists to keep you young at heart.

10 May 2016

The best things in life are free

Life has changed so much since two months ago.  Baby M is not sleeping as well as she used to, so I get wakened up at least a couple times each night.  It's ok.  For some reason, could be that rosebud mouth or those cheeks, it doesn't bother me.  Also, my body seems to be able to function remarkably well with less sleep.  This is great news to me.  I don't ever remember feeling like this with the other three.  In fact, I often grew cranky being woken up so much at night.  Can only guess why it's not the same with this little lady.  Perhaps it took that long for me to understand or absorb an important truth: this too shall pass, and that precious baby will be grown up by tomorrow.

We went to the park this week almost every day after school.  The weather was beautiful and we all just ached to be outdoors.  :)  Once while we were there, I brought a bag and we picked dandelions.  There are so many of them in the fields and along the roads.  Even next to a small forest we found the ground just littered with golden blossoms.  Our picking didn't even make a dent in their numbers.  We are infusing them right now and are hoping to use the oil later in salves and soaps.

Anyhow.  The one bad thing I'm noticing is that I seem to have my sweet tooth back in full force.  To the extent that I know it can't be good for me to eat all that sugar.  After having exercised a little will-power during Lent, you'd think it'd be easy afterwards.  Not so.  I am in need of more "no sweets" periods.  Always found it easier to go cold turkey that be moderately restrictive.  Again, I puzzle as to why!  This bothers me because I have babies to take care of, and sugar robs me of needed energy.  Also, I can't fit my old clothes and I can't bring myself to buy new ones.  Catch 22.  Something's gotta give, I suppose.  I shan't give up though.  My body feels better with less sugar!

I am working on a few projects, lots of summer time activities for the kids.  And shopping.  J needs a new bike, D needs some clothes, a few gifts need buying.  Trouble is, I don't have the TIME for all that AND housekeeping.  Sometimes it's nice to have a helping hand.  I was so happy that M helped make pancakes Saturday morning.  To be fair, I had to be right there with him, and I ended up frying them.  However, we are on a path that will end with him relatively self-sufficient in the kitchen!  He really enjoys working with his hands so far.  Loves to build, construct and dismantle.  Very interested in how things work.  Only recently has he started asking why they work a certain way or what makes them function so.  That is an exciting journey since it opens up a whole new world to both of us.  Yesterday he finished building a model 4-cylinder gasoline engine.  We are learning the mechanics of this together.  Really cool stuff I tell you!  :)

And we are fast becoming a musical family.  The kids are humming, chirping and just singing all the time!  Catch them playing alone and they're usually singing a new tune.  I think it's the weather.  The change in seasons, more vitamin D, more physical activity... whatever it is.  I love it.  And I hope it's a herald of the coming days.  

3 May 2016

A post-Pascha post

After over a month, almost two of being absent here, you'd think I'd be bubbling over with news and goings-on.  The only real thing I feel like sharing is just how tired I am!  These past weeks have been just beautiful, and draining, and lovely and hard.  And now, descending slowly down to earth from heaven, if you will, I am struck by how spent I am.

In fact, the only ambition I have is to make a good hearty pot of bone broth soup.  That's what my body needs, I think.  And curl up with a good book, perhaps outside in the sun.  :)  I doubt very much any of that will happen, except the soup, but it's nice to dream!  I am so thankful for the sunshine.  It just perks my mood right up!  In fact, on this second day of May, I am thankful for many things...

- for Skype, WhatsApp, and connecting to far away sisters

- for birdsong, and the muted chirping going on just before dawn

- for seeing a 5-year old so excited to paint something

- for kindred spirits, dear friends, and good company

- for feast days

- for quieter and often cuddly moments with a certain 2 year old darling

- for baby coos, smiles and peekaboo laughing (and those kissable cheeks!)

- for the warm sunshine on my back, my shoulders and my hands... especially after a seemingly long winter

- for the joy of running after little children outside

- for planning gardens, plants, and just anything green sprouting!

- for deep conversations in the car with a seven-year old on route to wherever

- for painting.  Oh how I've missed painting.  I could shout with the sheer joy of picking up a paintbrush!

- for reading together in the evenings before bed

I wish you many such thankful moments!  Christ is risen!

23 March 2016

Yarn Along

Plugging away on a sweater... and Simplicity Parenting.  I find it a very helpful reminder to slow things down.  It's definitely been akin to taking the temperature of your family to make sure you're not sick.  :)  

Joining Ginny and friends for this week's Yarn Along.

7 March 2016

Just before Lent

We've had the mildest winter I can remember so far.  This week it's supposed to get into the teens!  (For my American friends, that's in the 50s F.)  We've had sporadic skating adventures here and there, but they haven't been as often as we'd have liked.  That's partly because I wasn't up for skating until mid to late January, and after that because of the periodic thaws we've had.  

That being said, I have to say that skating at night is fun!  It's something I don't remember doing when I was growing up.  I think I prefer the day, just because of the warmth factor of the sun (brrr!), but I'm glad we got to go at night too.

More shots of the little ones here.  :)  Little M is growing.  Cheeks and all.  Our baby is almost 4 months now!  She's easily the best sleeper I've had.  Of course, they change at the drop of a hat, so I'm not really holding my breath.  We shall take things as they come.  My new motto!  (And it took 4 kids for me to be ok with that!)  

We had a snow day (the first this year) and we got to enjoy our day together without rushing.  That is a gift to me.  More and more, I find I can't do rush.  I get anxious inside, I get panicked and that's usually when I start yelling or snapping.  And even if I'm not shouting, I certainly am not enjoying the moment.  I miss out on a lot in retrospect.  M will come to me trying to share a cool fact he's learned, or J will want to have a conversation to process something new, and I'm basically not there for them.  So you can imagine how much this mama enjoys leisurely days with her brood!    

Lent is almost here.  One week left to go.  The Great fast.  My kids are actually very excited to fast.  Their schoolmates are almost finished Lent, but they are raring to go.  I can't say I am excited for the Fast, but I have to say I am looking towards it with a sort of relief.  Perhaps eagerness too.  It is a journey of intentional reflection, of inner quiet, of sober undertaking.  And so, I will most likely be absent here in large part. 

Until we meet again, I wish you a wonderful spring!   

19 February 2016

A much belated update

S washing dishes
My, how I've neglected this space!  Time just seems to fly by and priorities shuffle around accordingly.  Which is to say that I haven't been here because I haven't had the time, nor found it incombent to make the time.  :)

S with the sandpaper letters

There has been just too much going on.  I am simultaneously reading three or four different books.  Simplicity Parenting, Siblings Without Rivalry, and Square Foot Gardening.  I have three crocheting projects that are just missing ears, and I have a cape pinned up and ready to sew.  Schooling has been the main reason though why I haven't been here.  The kids have quite a bit of homework on a given day, and when they don't (or when they're done) I don't want to waste the precious time I have with them.

The two older ones and I went skating this past Monday outside at Celebration Square.  Oh how fun it was!  I have forgotten the joys of skating.  And those two were just priceless.  My phone is full of photos from our morning skate.  In the end, I had to drag M off home.  He just didn't want to leave.  And boy, you could tell how much he loved it!  Trying to speed skate around the rink and falling every so often when he lost balance.  I can't say how often I laughed gleefully for the pure joy of watching those two learn such a fun sport!  We are planning a repeat for today while the cold weather lasts.

Last weekend we managed to get to our favourite retreat - Dormition monastery.  Such good timing.  And how we've missed it.  Whenever we get back, we notice how we feel more uplifted and how the kids have sort of re-calibrated, if you will.  It's beautiful.

S and J scrubbing potatoes
S colour matching while J sorts beans
These days, it's S keeping me busy during school hours.  She is motoring along with her "work" and I am following her lead as best I can.  I wish I knew what I know now earlier so the other two could have enjoyed similar activities and attention from mama.  I am doing my best to make up for it though.  J loves working in the kitchen, and it's not hard to get M in there either.  All is not lost.  The other day, we took a much-needed break at home to recuperate and recharge together.  While not perfect by any stretch, I found the day to be very profitable on so many levels.  And that just makes my heart sing.  :)

Little J turned 5 early this month.  She loved all her gifts, and they were all very hands-on, which is where this little one is right now.  She loves to make things and play dress up.  She has gotten a lot of use from her new "bead box" and has been very generous sharing with M and S.  There has been a lot of bracelet and necklace making going on.  

And baby M was baptized on the 31st of Jan.  (Two more reasons I haven't been around, incidentally!)  Speaking of baby, she is a doll.  Laughing away whenever someone takes the time to notice and talk to her.  She talks right back to us too!  This is actually a sore point, because I so often have little time to give her, and I feel so guilty!  It's no wonder I try to make up for it while I'm waiting in line at the store!  Those old ladies must think I'm a new mama the way I go on with her.  :)  C'est la vie, je crois.

J sorting the items in our nature box

Right now, we are turning our attention to plants.  Tomatoes in particular.  And cucumbers.  Some seeds need to be started soon and I am unprepared on so many levels.  But, here we go again.  Diving into another growing season with our sleeves pulled up and ready to get dirty.

M and J completing their Montessori sun together while S looks on

M experimenting with mixing colours

Another item on my list is organizing this space.  I think I mentioned I was trying to organize the kitchen.  Well, that has spilled over into the entire house.  It's a big job.  Bear with me.  It won't be done this month.  Probably not this spring.  I just have to be realistic with four kids and a full, full, full life with them.  (In trying to find an adjective to describe our lives, I really think "full" is the most successful...)

The cape I must needs finish and my little sewer stitching her little fox purse
Anyhow, excuse me as I have a cape to sew and a poster of the life cycle of a frog to start.  And if I was being honest, I'd have to say that I'll probably have to wait on the poster for next week.  Kids do need to eat, I'm told.  So dinner trumps poster.  But not cape.  Funny how that works, eh?

Wishing you a wonderful and preferably peaceful weekend.